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Hitting the rum during the holidays!

December 9, 2008

Watch the television hit Hell’s Kitchen and you can cut the tension with a knife. Emotions run high with frantic chefs often fighting back tears. Visit the kitchen at the Woodlands Foundation outside of Pittsburgh and you’ll find a completely different atmosphere.

On most days in November and December, with the air heavy with the scent of butter and rum, you’ll find Dr. Kamthorn Sukarochana, “Dr. Kam,” as he is known, whipping up his famous rum cakes to the strains of classical music. While the cakes are baking, he’ll take a break to play a little solitaire on the computer or maybe take a quick nap.

The rest is well deserved. After retiring from a long, successful career as a pediatric surgeon, Dr. Kam enrolled in the InternationalCulinary Academy to hone his cooking skills. Now nearing the age of 81, Dr. Kam volunteers his time and talents at the Woodlands Foundation, which offers programs to enrich the lives of children and young adults with disabilities and chronic illnesses.

A participant in the organization’s aquatic programs which is open to the general public, Dr. Kam has been baking his rum cakes and apricot brandy cakes for the past four holiday seasons to raise money for the program.

Dr. Kam, a native of Thailand, started making the cakes on a small scale in his home’s kitchen. With demand increasing every year, he moved operations to the commercial facilities at the Woodlands and enlisted the help of FedEx volunteers to produce the hundreds of cakes that have been ordered.

Last year, a dozen FedEx employees spent the day with Dr. Kam, churning out nearly 80 cakes and preparing many for shipment across the country. This year, with his fan base growing, four FedEx teams are scheduled to don aprons and lend a hand.

Cooking with Dr. Kam, as we call it, is just one of the ways FedEx employees have volunteered their time at the Woodlands. Following Pittsburgh’s second FedEx Cares Day at the Woodlands, hundreds of FedEx volunteers in purple FedEx Cares t-shirts have returned to paint, landscape and perform general maintenance duties.

If you enjoy baking, give Dr. Kam’s recipe a try.

For more information on the Woodlands Foundation and to read more about the engaging
Dr. Kam, please visit


1 yellow cake mix with pudding

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup rum

1/2 cup water

4 eggs

Mix ingredients and beat well. Place in greased and floured bundt pan and bake one hour at 350 degrees. Cool and turn out of pan onto plate. Prick top and bottom with a fork.


1/4 cup water

1 stick butter or margarine

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup rum

Heat water on high heat. Whisk butter and water together on the fire. Add sugar and whisk until sugar dissolves. Take off fire and add rum. Pour over cake.



    Peggy Harris says:

    Dr.Kam has started poking the cakes with a fork while still hot in the pan and basting them with the syrup and letting it saturate the cakes before turning them out, it makes for a moister cake and less mess. Enjoy!
    Peggy Harris,
    Foodservice Director
    The Woodlands Foundation

    Trina Alford says:

    As always we enjoyed the day at the Woodland’s.

    Dr. Kam and Peggy are the best.

    On another note, Dr. Kam volunteered his time to some of the participants in the spring for a cooking class. They help prepare and eat authentic dishes and he told such wonderful stories while they cooked.

    Thanks again for all the volunteering hours Fedex employees gives to the Woodlands,my daughter’s favorite “hang-out”!

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